Tag Archives: Mamzar

Mamzar Olympic Triathlon – October 2014

Following the plan set out by Super Tri's Trace Rogers paid off
Following the plan set out by Super Tri’s Trace Rogers paid off

With an entry thankfully secured for the Olympic Distance race and a brand new TT bike to really test out, I loaded up the car early on Friday morning, having enjoyed a few beers with a new friend the evening before and less than the desired amount of sleep (as always before a race), and made my way to Mamzar Beach. The last time I raced at Mamzar was earlier in the year when I still had my nice shiny new 4WD, which was then totalled by an idiot driver jumping a red en-route back towards home and thoughts of a well earned breakfast. It was with some sense of exorcising those demons that I returned this time, albeit via a slightly different route, avoiding the main highway and, the logic dictated, the speedier idiots.

Its amazing how much kit is actually needed for a tri
Its amazing how much kit is actually needed for a tri

Mamzar now feels familiar, having raced there twice before, although each race still carries new challenges and requires the utmost level of planning and focus as ever. The usual pre-race routine of setting up transition, mentally rehearsing both T1 and T2, and running through the race plan was adhered to. The differences this time were that a) I was feeling much stronger, off the back of an entire year of Ironman training, and also had my very own TT bike, and thus felt very much more like a “real” triathlete, not that having a TT bike really makes any significant difference. Racking up yet again next to Christian Henn, a powerhouse of triathlon and an athlete whom I admire greatly and can only aspire to match in terms of both training and racing success, conjured up feelings of deja vu, as I’m pretty sure we were racked next to each other last time as well. I guess we both like to sign up to races at similar times! Not that our race times were ever going to be the same. As expected, Christian stormed through the race, finishing, as I understand it, in a hugely impressive time of a smidge over 2 hours versus by 2hrs 25mins. Unstoppable! Anyway, I digress.

My new steed had a good first race
My new steed had a good first race

With the new mean machine (Focus Chrono) settled in ready for the bike portion, and my new Sailfish Speedsuit donned in anticipation of the non-wetsuit swim, with the aim very much being to NOT go anywhere near the sharp rope and cut said pricey new addition to my sporting wardrobe, it was time to get in the zone, limber up and make my way down to the shoreline ready for the swim start. One of the great things about the triathlon scene here in Dubai is the real sense of community that there is, and it is always fun catching up with friends as we all wait anxiously but excitedly, counting down the minutes until we get to enter the water, swim out beyond the rope and tread water before the deep water swim start. I have a pretty good acceleration in the water and so intentionally positioned myself as near the front of the pack as I could, choosing, however, to stay to the right of the main huddle, meaning that I would have a slightly longer swim line to the first buoy but, I reasoned, it should be less crowded and thus a smoother and faster swim.

With the starting horn sounded, a mass of arms, legs and spray erupted as we powered our way through the water towards the first turn, occasionally catching our breath as we spotted the odd large jellyfish bobbing just below the surface, reminding us that we were very much in their marine domain. I had a pretty good swim all told, even though I a) still have some work to do on sighting, swimming a slightly more zig-zag course than would have been ideal, and b) had the distinct sensation of the water being almost effervescent, feeling a tingling sensation which I put down to possible small stings from possibly macerated jellyfish parts that may have been floating about in the water. I later learned that the source of the strange sensation was in fact small jellyfish larvae, which get trapped between our tri suits and skin, administering continuous tiny stings, giving what I experienced as a tingling sensation. Apparently Mamzar is a big breeding ground for jellyfish, and so everyone experienced the same strange sensation, which we all initially put down to sea lice.

With the two lap swim complete, followed by a reasonably rapid T1, it was out on the bike for the five laps, my aim being to follow the plan advised by Trace, my coach, of racing at 95% of my functional power threshold for the bike leg. Not having my power meter attached to my new bike did mean that I had to rely on heart rate as my guide to power, and so my intention was to maintain it at about 163 beats per minute. That did end up feeling painfully slow, with loads of people ending up sailing past me over the course of the 40km. Still, as tempting as it was to put pedal to the metal and race them all, I knew that the thing to do was trust the plan and stick with it.

Feeling good on the 10km run
Feeling good on the 10km run

As it transpired, that was exactly the right thing to do as I entered T2, donned my running shoes and immediately felt strong as I started the 10km run. From the minute I left transition I hit a steady pace of 4:15 and maintained it as my average pace for the duration of the two lap run, relishing the sensation of picking off fellow runner after fellow runner, all of whom had passed me at one point or another on the bike. In fact, I think that the net result over the 10km was that I was not actually overtaken and sill managed to finish pretty strong. Not that there was anything left in the tank mind you, as I slowed to savour the finish, something that I have recently started to do after previously tearing through the finish as if my pants were on fire and missing out on the very real sense of elation that comes from crossing that line. It also means that the photographers actually get a better chance to snap a half decent shot of you over the line, as opposed to some out-of-focus, blurry mess of a grimmacing idiot that I used to see as my usual finish line photo.

Savouring the finish line
Savouring the finish line

With the much appreciated post-race chocolate milk provided by the generous SuperTri crew procured and hastily imbibed, it was time to shoot the post-race breeze with my fellow UAE triathletes before collecting up the new steed, finding a quiet spot on the beach to shower and ‘re-humanise’ before returning home for a well-earned breakfast and rest. Another great race in an altogether incredible city for triathlon. Bring on the Dubai International Triathlon!

FINAL RACE RESULTS:

Swim 1.5km (incl T1) = 0:29’55

Cycle 40km (incl T2) = 1:12’54

Run 10km = 0:43’07

TOTAL = 2:25’57

First Tri of the Season

Bobbing around at the swim start with all of the other crazy people who elect to get up at the crack of dawn – well, pre-dawn actually – waiting for the start horn to go off, there is a palpable sense of anticipation and a hunger to take all of the training to date and apply it there and then, in that moment, to race. After all, it is why we do what we do. We are racers. Competitors. Whether we’re competing with others or, as for many triathletes, simply competing with ourselves, to push it further, faster, harder, the start line is where it all comes together.

And so it was that I found myself waiting patiently in the cool waters off Mamzar Beach in Dubai on the 7th February, ready to step it up from the last time I found myself there for the Sprint race, my first as a triathlete in Dubai, and take part in the Olympic distance race. Much has changed since that first event. For a start I found I was having to actively tread water considerably less thanks to my lovely new(ish) tri-specific wetsuit, and I felt calmer, stronger and more focused. After all, I have now been training here in the Middle East for a year and no longer feel as overwhelmed with the sensory onslaught that a triathlon serves up. As if to prove to myself how much more ready I felt, I placed myself at the front of the swim pack, sprinted off for all I had and quickly settled myself into a rhythm, surrounded on all sides by other determined racers, something that last year would have freaked me out.

The swim was a two lap course, totaling 1.5km, and I was very pleased to find myself completing the entire swim without feeling the need to stop, or revert to breaststroke, something that I have ended up doing at every race to date, and which I always mentally chastise myself for. The weekly pool sessions with Tri Dubai and the regular open water sea swims have worked their magic, meaning my confidence, and indeed fitness, in the water has come on.

With the swim completed in a time of 26 mins, which I was very pleased with, it was on to the cycle. Transition is still very much an area in which I can get a whole heap faster, especially given that I choose to put socks on after drying my feet, something which a fellow triathlete friend of mine ribbed me for. Still, bike helmet on, bike grabbed and off we went! Literally as I was leaving the cycle mount area I realised that I had left my energy gels behind – DOH! To turn around or keep going? That was the question. Keep going! I made the decision to be careful about not going too hard on the bike, especially early on, given that I had no easily available energy sources to hand. As it turned out, the cycle went well without the extra kick of a gel or two, and although I won’t be winning any records for breaking the cycle land speed record, I was pleased with my 1 hour 41 minute time, especially when pitched against the super carbon machines that I was well aware of as they zipped past me in what looked like an effortless, weightless blur. One day I shall own one of those super bikes, oh yes I shall!

So, cycle completed it was just the small matter of grinding out 10km of running. I’d have to say that running is probably my strongest of the three disciplines and I derive a fair amount of pleasure from cruising past those super cyclists who had previously overtaken me on their bikes now that machine had been chipped away to man. Like most triathletes, and in fact most athletes, I am fairly habitual – some might call it OCD – about some aspects of my racing. For example, I generally always run with a cap, specifically my white Oakley one, turned backwards like some little league wannabe. I realise it probably looks slightly dorkish but I simply don’t care as in my mind it makes me go faster. My aim for the two lap run course was to post a negative split, meaning that I would run the second 5km faster than the first. As it turned out my pace ended up pretty much staying constant, except for the very brief piss stop that I spent the first 3km debating whether to take – I’m soooooo glad I took the seconds to stop as there is nothing better for your running comfort than not having a full bladder – and the run was completed in a time of 44 minutes, which I was very pleased with. The fact that I found it a tougher effort to put in that obligatory sprint finish at the end suggested that my effort on the run was a good one, and I kept up an almost constant 4:27 pace for the full 10km.

Mamzar Tri Feb 2014Medal collected, chocolate milk downed and water cracked open, it was time to bask in that fatigued yet wonderful post-race glow, whilst sharing in the atmosphere with fellow racers and friends. That is one of the great things about our sport: the true sense of camaraderie and genuine interest and pleasure taken in the training and race performance of others.

After a quick check-in with Trace Rogers, my coach, who had been out marshaling the event, I loaded my kit up in the 4WD, grabbed a rather refreshing (read FREEZING and very brief) shower and drove off home with thoughts of an awesome breakfast and a movie dancing through my mind.

A great race and a fantastic day – up to the point some reckless driver ploughed into me and my car, but that is a whole separate post.

FINAL RACE TIME = 2:26:25

Mamzar race results